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L.A. Dance Project

March 12, 2015

Moving Parts, Morgan’s Last Chug, Hearts & Arrows

Reviewed March 11, 2015

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

Charlie Hodges opens Benjamin Millepied's Moving Parts, Photograph by Laurent Philippe

Charlie Hodges opens Benjamin Millepied’s Moving Parts, Photograph by Laurent Philippe

If it wasn’t for L.A. Dance Project’s final work on the bill Wednesday, it would have been an interminably long and boring evening: three works ranging from 17 to 25 minutes, interspersed with two 20-plus-minute intermissions.

It’s not that the opening piece Moving Parts, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, isn’t fresh and vibrant, performed in fast forward by three men and two women with an impressive precision and sharpness. And, sure, American visual artist Christopher Wool’s bold rolling installation is a creative use of space. And violinist Carissa Klopoushak and clarinetist Sean Rice performing live through most of it is a nice touch. But there’s just nothing memorable about this abstract 25-minute dance, which premiered at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall in September 2012.

And then it goes downhill from there. A 2013 work by Emanuel Gat, an Israeli-born, French-based choreographer and colleague of Millepied’s, seems endless. Dark (it’s possible there were lighting problems), chaotic and agonizing, Morgan’s Last Chug simply takes up space on the program. “A multifaceted look at the experience of passing time,” Morgan’s Last Chug is accompanied by J.S. Bach’s French suite #1 in D minor, H. Purcell’s depressing Funeral Music for Queen Mary, a muffled recording of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, performed by Jim Norton and the dancers’ body slaps and thumps.

This piece simply has no integrated movement beyond a vague group mentality. Is time so chaotic? Or maybe it’s chaos that is timeless. Who knows, but the work itself is seemingly without end.

Capping off the evening is Millepied’s more recent work Hearts & Arrows for eight dancers, set to the upbeat accompaniment of Philip Glass’s stirring String Quartet No. 3. The costumes are a bit odd – well, maybe they’re quaint – glossy black high-waisted skirts on the three women and tight biking shorts on the five men, imprinted with shiny silver horizontal and vertical lines that make the material look like reverse graph paper.

Nevertheless, the fast-paced work is vital, lyrical and urgent, promoting a sense of continuity, longing and togetherness.

Overall, I expected more from such an accomplished and talented theatrical dancer-turned-choreographer. Millepied founded L.A. Project in 2012 as an innovative platform for contemporary dance and it’s the company’s first performance in Canada. Originally from France, where he began his dance studies, a former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, and a choreographer-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Millepied took over the helm of the Paris Opera Ballet last fall.

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From → Contemporary

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